The supply chain disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine is driving up the cost of goods and services, affecting not only the industrial sector (e.g. semiconductors) but also the agricultural industry. Global food prices have fallen for three consecutive months, but still remain relatively high compared to last year the 2022 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
A South Korean startup Tridge wants to tackle the problem through its online trading platform that connects global buyers and sellers of food agriculture. The platform helps from research to ordering and enables buyers to deliver their food and agricultural products at reasonable prices to more than 150 countries. Suppliers can also diversify their sales channels and find buyers (at the right time) for perishable foods.
Tridge said on Thursday it had secured $37.2 million (50 billion won) in a Series D funding round at a postmoney valuation of $2.7 billion. The latest funding, led by South Korean private equity firm DSAsset, brings Tridge’s total funding to $111.7 million since its inception in 2015.
The new estimate represents about a 440%, or 5.4-fold, increase Postmoney valuation of Tridge at $500 million in July 2021 when it raised $60 million in its Series C round from Korean venture capital firm Forest Partners.
Tridge says its valuation has risen for about a year as it generated revenue in Tridge’s fulfillment services business from September 2021 after raising a Series C round. Tridge reported less than 7.4 million dollars (10 billion won) in sales last year, now generates between $15 million and $23 million in sales per month, according to the company.
Its fulfillment solution acts as an intermediary for more than 15,000 agricultural products, enabling buyers to find and receive delivery on time. In addition, more than 100,000 suppliers in 150 countries can sell their food and agricultural products on Tridge’s platform. The company market intelligence service, launched in 2020, offers food supply chain analysis and market reports for agricultural products and commodities such as apples, strawberries, tomatoes, avocados, pepper, coconut, garlic, seafood and coffee beans. Tridge has data covering approximately 15,000 agricultural products with 50,000 price updates. (The company claims to have amassed more than 1 trillion data points cumulatively.) That means users can check current and historical wholesale prices, volume and market share of every agricultural product covered by Tridge.
“Now there are a lot of real transactions [on Tridge’s platform] happening in many countries, including the US, Brazil, Turkey, India, Vietnam, Australia, Tanzania, the Netherlands and Canada,” Hoshik Shin, founder and CEO of Tridge, told TechCrunch. “Sales have been increasing since last September.”
Shin noticed an information asymmetry between buyers and sellers of agricultural products in the commodity market in 2012 when he was struggling to supply 60,000 tons of coal to Korean and Japanese steel companies as a commodity investor at an investment bank. After paying a higher price for coal due to the lack of transparency and information, Shin founded Tridge to address this problem.
“Tridge is trying to solve problems like global supply chain collapse and growth,” Shin said. “With this investment, we will accelerate overseas expansion plans.”
Tridge claims to have 447,786 users today, up from 343,401 users in June 2021. The startup’s customers range from farmers to global retailers, including Costco, Kellogg’s, Walmart, Nestle, Dole, Sysco, Lotte Mart, Mitsui & Co ., Carrefour and Indofood.
Its customer base naturally increased as demand for platforms like Tridge in the agriculture industry grew during the coronavirus pandemic, which limited travel and face-to-face meetings, according to the company.
Tridge plans to use the newly secured capital to launch new services, invest in its technology and further expand its overseas business, focusing on the US, Europe and other countries such as Turkey, Brazil, India, Vietnam and Tanzania, Shin said. Its previous backers include SoftBank Ventures Asia and Activant Capital.
The Seoul-based company, which currently employs around 600 people, has established offices in 45 countries around the world, including the US and Europe.